Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses watch bands: backward compatibility, design philosophy, and more

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses watch bands: backward compatibility, design philosophy, and more

Customers may pick from a variety of Apple Watch bands, and the Apple Watch’s design allows users to replace their bands as often as they like, which is difficult to accomplish with traditional watches.

Apple Watch bands were recently discussed with HYPEBEAST by Evans Hankey, Apple’s vice president of industrial design, and Stan Ng, Apple’s vice president of product marketing.

Customers have “an astonishing amount of potential permutations, well into the thousands” of styles to choose from when it comes to changing their watch face, watchband style and colour, and the material of the Apple Watch case itself, according to Hankey.

One hallmark character of the Apple Watch is that bands from previous years have, so far, been compatible with the newest model in the same size. For example, with the Apple Watch Series 7, Apple increased the case sizes to 41mm and 45mm, and yet, watch bands for 40mm and 44mm Apple Watch models remain compatible.

Hankey said that backward compatibility remains a top priority for the Apple Watch team.

Since the first Apple Watch to today’s Series 7, the interchangeability of the band has been a cornerstone of the product. Between the band style and color, the material of the Watch housing, and which Watch face you’ve selected and customized, the system affords an unbelievable number of potential combinations, well into the thousands. Each time we have refined the Apple Watch’s design, we have pushed ourselves to maintain backward compatibility, which has been no small feat as the display has grown over the years.

For us, the band is not at all about technology — each band expresses our love for materials, craft, and the process of making.

Apple Watch bands themselves include no technology, but their design plays an important role in making sure that functionality of the Apple Watch doesn’t get interrupted. Ng said that Apple Watch bands feature “innovations” to ensure they’re comfortable, and don’t ruin the Apple Watch experience.

For example, the velcro tabs on the Sport Loops, magnets on the Milanese Loop and Leather Link, and nine sizes of Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop make it easy to adjust or find the right band size for a perfect fit. This ensures the watch is comfortable to wear — not too snug and not too loose — while also enabling features like all-day heart rate tracking, blood oxygen readings, and on-wrist detection that allow you to use Apple Pay or unlock your iPhone securely without authenticating every time.

Apple designs its own set of bands, but it also works with high-end luxury brand Hermès. Ng said that Apple’s collaboration with Hermès is unique since both companies have an obsession over details, craftsmanship, and storytelling. In the remainder of the interview, the executives go into more detail about some popular Apple Watch bands, such as the Braided Solo Loop, Leather Link, and Milanese Loop.

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